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At Independence High School, it’s all about the journey

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Posted: Friday, May 25, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 9:11 am, Fri May 25, 2012.

Glass-shattering screams erupted from the audience at McNair High School every time a graduate's name was called during the Independence High School graduation ceremony on Thursday.

Camera flashes caused graduates to blink, but not once did anyone on stage break their smile as they grabbed their diplomas.

For students at Independence High School, the road to their high school graduation has not necessarily been an easy one.

Some students had children at a young age. Others could not go to a traditional high school like Lodi or Tokay because of cultural differences. Some struggled in a classroom setting and needed a little extra help along the way.

But every student persevered.

And at Thursday's ceremony, it was not only a celebration of the students' graduation — it was also about their achievements in life.

Sunbal Dishad reminisced about yesteryear — kindergarten, to be exact — when she addressed her fellow graduates at the Independence High School graduation ceremony Thursday at McNair High School.

She talked of children crying, holding their mother's hands, begging them not to leave. She spoke of the infamous childhood belief that boys and girls have that thing called "cooties."

But all of that had drastically changed, Dishad said, as she and her 107 fellow classmates stepped into the next phase of their educational journeys.

They were part of the largest graduating class that the high school had ever seen.

"Attitude matters as much as ability (with getting an education)," she said. "Attitude will tell you where you go."

Looking out at the full auditorium at McNair High School, salutatorian Sumaira Arshad said she and her classmates had grown up.

Arshad spoke of her classmates beginning their education eating from Power Ranger and Hello Kitty lunchboxes, and going on to having full-time jobs and getting scholarships to pursue higher education.

As an immigrant from Pakistan who did not come to Lodi until she was in seventh grade, Arshad said she missed some of the earlier experiences some of her classmates shared, but that Thursday, they were all experiencing a leap of maturity together.

"We are now men and women," she said. "We are no longer boys and girls."

Principal Carol Owens spoke of the need to continue to pursue education, stating the phrase "ignorance is bliss" is a misconception about knowledge.

She said knowledge is not so much about reaching a destination.

Rather, she compared getting an education to taking a road trip that has stops along the way.

Graduating from high school is one of those stops, she said.

"Your life. Your journey. Your destination," she said. "All are different. But success is many things."

Contact reporter Katie Nelson at katien@lodinews.com.

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